Thomas Jefferson Papers

Samuel Kercheval to Thomas Jefferson, 28 September 1809

From Samuel Kercheval

Stephensburg. Frederick Cy Sepr 28th 1809.


I have taken the liberty of inclosing to you, a subscription paper, for the purpose of raising money towards defraying the charges, of building an Academy at this place. I need not hint to you Sir the importance of the institution; you are far better qualified to judge of its utility than I am. It may not however, be improper to remark, that the situation is both beautifull & healthy, and is capable of being improved to great advantage.

If you should think proper to patronize the undertaking, and contribute any thing for that purpose; any contributions, either from your self or any of your friends will be gratefully received. Pardon the liberty I have taken, and beleive me, (altho a stranger to your person) your Most obt Sert

Saml Kercheval
Secy for the Trustees

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 31 Oct. 1809 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

Samuel Kercheval (1767–1845), an innkeeper at Stephensburg, near Winchester, is best known for his History of the Valley of Virginia (1833). In 1816 he supported unsuccessful calls for a state constitutional convention by the underrepresented western half of Virginia. Writing under the pseudonym of “H. Tompkinson,” in that year Kercheval elicited a memorable letter from TJ both approving of a convention and endorsing democratic reforms. However, when TJ learned that the letter was circulating widely, he demanded that Kercheval retrieve any copies, and he denied him permission to publish the letter both then and in 1824 (John Walter Wayland, Twenty-Five Chapters on the Shenandoah Valley [1957], 283–6; Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and his Time, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 6:348–50, 442).

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